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Ten Unbelievable Sites for Automotive Assembly


By Mike Randle


Many were in a frenzy over the winter quarter as Toyota finally picked Tupelo for its latest assembly plant. We're glad it's over. In fact, if I was going to have to do another interview about Toyota's site search, I knew I would hurl.


For example, I even did a five-minute interview with a Memphis reporter the Saturday afternoon before the announcement was made three days later. That interview, while short --  'cause I am not a good snow skier and I had to cut him off --was done while I was on a ski lift with my oldest son going up some mountain in New Hampshire. I can tell you, with confidence, that the hardest part of snow skiing for Southerners is getting off the lifts.


So, we're going to make it easier for automakers to find suitable sites for the next auto plant that comes the Southern Automotive Corridor's way (www.SouthernAutoCorridor.com). Here are our top 10 sites for automotive assembly at this time. Not unlike automaker's site selector's minds, this list may change the next time the wind blows. 


1. Wellspring Project, Tupelo, Miss: SOLD


* A 1,700-acre, TVA certified automotive megasite

* Rectangular shaped core site with a 2:1 ratio

* Privately-owned site

* Electric power provided by TVA

* Adjacent to Interstate 22 (U.S. Highway 78), between Birmingham, Ala. and Memphis, Tenn.

* Site is served by Burlington Northern Santa Fe mainline with haulage rights to Norfolk Southern

* Located in an EPA air attainment area

* 77% of the U.S. population can be reached within two-day drive time


2. Enterprise South Site, Chattanooga, Tenn. 


* A 1,600-acre, TVA certified automotive site

* Core site surrounded by a 2,800-acre buffer to the east and a 128-acre buffer to the west

* Located 12 miles northeast of downtown Chattanooga

* Zoned Heavy Industrial

* Adjacent to Interstate 75 and two interchanges serve the site

* Dual rail capacity (CSX and Norfolk Southern)

* 80% of U.S. population is within a two-day drive time

* Industrial-grade infrastructure in place

* Property is owned exclusively by the city and county


3. Metro Megasite, Tunica, Mississippi


* A 2,221-acre site located in the Memphis metro and in an attainment county

* Bordered by two four-lane highways and located near Interstate 40 and 55 and the proposed Interstate 69

* All utilities located on site with utility redundancy

* Documented due diligence, with favorable physical site assessments

* Complete control of the site with willing sellers

* Various studies are available for review including engineering, phase one environmental, topographic, wetland, archeological and hydrological

* Located in an area that enjoys some of the lowest property tax rates in the South

* Canadian National Mainline Railroad serves the site


4. Franklin Farm, Richland Parish, Louisiana


* A 1,440-acre primary core site with approximately 4,000 additional acres available

* Nicely situated directly on an Interstate 20 interchange. The site is located between Nissan in Mississippi and General Motors in Shreveport, La.

* One owner site with options

* Lots of infrastructure and resources in place, including dual rail potential, fiber, 500KV and 115KV electrical transmission lines and unlimited water

* Significant federal incentives


5. Carolina's I-77 Mega Site


* A 1,151-acre site featuring lots of frontage on Interstate 77. The site is located in Richburg, S.C. (County of Chester), about 35 miles from the Charlotte (N.C.) Douglas International Airport

* Owned by L&C Railroad

* All utilities on site


6. Railport Industrial Park, Marion, Arkansas


* A 2,100-acre site bounded on the north by the Union Pacific Intermodal Railport, with a BNSF Intermodal facility located one mile to the east and a Illinois Central Intermodal facility eight miles away

*  Interstates 40 and 55 are within three miles of the property

* Located in the Memphis metropolitan area

* Site is privately-owned, flat as a board, cleared and ready for development

* Four-college work force training available in East Arkansas


7. West Tennessee Automotive Park, Crockett County, Tennessee


* A 1,600-acre site certified by TVA, located near Jackson, Tenn.

* CSX mainline nearby, and Interstate 40 is 11 miles away

* The site features more than 1,000 contiguous acres and at this time is not designed to be divisible

* All utilities are in place at the site


8. Crossroads, Columbus, Mississippi


NOTE: This was written prior to Toyota choosing Tupelo as the site for its newest assembly plant. The chances of an auto assembly operation in Columbus, Miss., which is located near Tupelo, have now been reduced to next to nothing now that Toyota is building in Tupelo. However, the Columbus site, Toyota aside, remains one of the best we've seen for an auto assembly plant.


*This 1,800-acre site is located in the Gulf Opportunity Zone, an area designated by the federal government for special incentives for locating industry

* Multiple rail carrier access

* Existing utility infrastructure adjacent to site

* Adjacent to commercial airport

* Located in the center of the Southern Auto Corridor

* A potential incentive package rivaled by few supersites


9. Shoal River Ranch, Crestview, Florida


* An 11,000-acre site located adjacent to Eglin Air Force Base

* CSX Rail, site is divided by Interstate 10

* Utilities are on site

* Property is on high ground, far enough from the Gulf coast to avoid any significant storm damage


10. Commerce Park, Clarksville, Tennessee


* 1,187-acre site located about 40 miles from downtown Nashville

* TVA served and certified site

Tennessee Valley Authority 


Marion, AR

 Opelika, AL

Winston-Salem, NC

Northeast Tennessee Valley

 Old Dominion Electric Cooperative

Tupelo, MS

Mid America Industrial Park 

Aiken, SC

 New Braunfels, TX

Martinsville-Henry County, VA 

Alabama Development Office 

Little Rock, AR

Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway

The Memphis Region

Roanoke, VA


Entergy Louisiana 

North Carolina

South Carolina

Tunica County, MS

Columbus, MS


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